Jesus’ teaching today ties in very closely with yesterday’s. Yesterday He addressed where our treasure is. Today He is addressing being anxious. Actually, Jesus didn’t split these two sections, we did. My bible starts this section with “Therefore…” I had a pastor once who said, “Any time you see a ‘therefore’ you better look and see what it is there for.” In other words, what just preceded it is important to the next thought.
Jesus just finished addressing our treasure’s location: in Heaven or Earth. He just told us that we CANNOT serve God AND money. So these themes are therefore carried over into today’s lesson.
Jesus knew that money was a common concern, or anxiety producer, for everyone. He had just told us that we weren’t to chase after earthly things. So, what are earthly things? The things money buys. That is why He started off this section talking about the essentials things money is usually used to buy; food, drinks, and clothing. These are what we consider the necessities of life. Without these we die. So if I’m not supposed to chase after money to get these things, how am I supposed to meet my needs?
First off, God knows we need these things. He created us this way in the first place. We know Adam and Eve ate in the garden because He told them they could eat of anything except the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. They didn’t need clothing until after the fall, but once they did, God made sure they had the best there was to offer. The leaves they sewed together wouldn’t stand up against the elements or the new work they would be required to do to survive. So God made them clothing out of animal skins. Proven protection against the elements.
God is also very well practiced at providing for the needs of His creations. Jesus points out that God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. God cares for all His creations. Jesus then points out that we are more precious to God than these things, so if they can trust Him, we certainly can too.
I was thinking about something as I was reading. At first glance it sounded like God was telling us to sit back and wait for Him to bring everything we need and lay it at our feet as we simply focus on spending time with Him. He said the birds don’t “sow, nor reap nor gather into barns.” He isn’t saying they don’t work. He is saying that He places the food source there for them and they go out and get it. They don’t build barns to store so they will have something next week, just in case there is a shortage somewhere in the world or the bird population gets too large to support what God is laying out. Instead, they go out searching for their food and bring it home to feed their young. After their bellies are full, they sing, soar in the sky, go for a dip in the water, and otherwise simply enjoy what God has provided for them. They don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from or if the water is going to ruffle their feathers. They trust that tomorrow, as every day before, God will provide what they need when they need it. And they will do their work of gathering what He has provided.
We are to do the same. Not literally not put anything in our cupboards for tomorrow, but know with certainty that God will provide what we need when we need it. He provides by bringing employment opportunities to us, by directing us to sources where He places helps, and by occasionally dropping direct provision right at our feet. He expects us to get up and gather what He has provided, but not get so intent on the supply that we neglect the Supplier. He says seek Him first, and He will take care of everything else.
Does this mean the homeless person isn’t seeking God, or that God is remiss in providing for their needs? I don’t know how to answer this fully, but I have seen God’s hand in motion when dealing with my own family members facing homelessness. I believe that God works through the situations we find ourselves in and uses them to help us grow. I know that personally left to our own devices we would be happy to remain just as we are. Sometimes God has to kick us out of our nests to bring us to a place where we are ready to receive the next lesson and eventually the next blessing He has for us. It’s not always easy, but it always results in the best.
One thing that bugs me is when people, even Christian leaders, start telling people to stock pile and grab their money out of the bank because….. (insert latest disaster prediction here). When Y2K stuff was driving everyone to the stores I acquiesced and bought extra food. I wasn’t worried about it but my family was. I knew God would carry us through it, like every other time disaster was predicted to be on the horizon. I figured that what we bought would be used for the next couple of months and therefore bring our grocery bill down for a bit. My mother-in-law is forever sharing her doom and gloom predictions and trying to convince me to stock up or store water or whatever. When she says these things in front of my husband, it sets him off. I hold fast to God’s promise: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (verse 33); and I heed Jesus’ instructions: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (verse 34). I repeat these verses to my husband every time his mother raises his anxiety level with cares of tomorrow and Jesus’ words wash away his worries.
If, after reading this, you think I have anxiety licked in my life you would be sadly disappointed in me. I still battle anxiety over several issues. Yes, money is one of my issues too. My biggest one though is patience. I have been working on getting a special medical treatment for my husband for over a year now. It is the first time he has had the possibility of consistently decreasing his chronic pain since it began 16 years ago. During this year long pursuit I have had to learn to turn loose of the reigns and wait. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do waiting very well. Maybe that is why God is calling me to wait. I have a lesson I need to learn. He just impressed on me too that during this year of waiting, my husband’s pain has been more manageable, so my need for a lesson and his lower pain have resulted in growth for me and added comfort for him during the process.
Thank You God that You actively care for us. That You are never distracted or get disgusted with how long it takes for us to learn the lessons You put in our paths. Thank You for caring for Steve’s needs while You worked on me. I have noticed a BIG difference in my anxiety levels just since starting our bible study time on line. Thank You for that added bonus. Maybe my need to devote more time to You in study is why my nest was developing prickly pears in the first place. I don’t seem to learn anything the easy way do I. I’m sorry for that too God. I desire a tender heart towards You, especially so You don’t have to make me so uncomfortable to finally get my attention. Thank You for not giving up though. I truly appreciate the growth You bring. I am honored that You think me worth pruning. Thank You for valuing me enough to shape me into what You would have me become. Thank You that I know tomorrow You will have more growth in store for me too. I’m Yours to mold until the end of time.